Gene page / Hulu
At Hulu Sick, Michael Keaton plays Sam Finnix as the kind of family doctor that anyone would want to take care of.
Folk and intelligent, he cares enough about stopping off at an elderly patient’s home after work to make sure she’s taken her medication. He still treats adults he gave birth as babies in a small mining town in Virginia.
But eventually, Finnix finds himself in front of a grand jury, pale and shocked. When a prosecutor asks how his patients reacted to the drug OxyContin, he offers a frightening answer.
“I can’t believe how many of them are dead now.”
Sick is an ambitious and emotional series tackling a sprawling story. He describes the onset of the OxyContin opioid addiction crisis from several angles: doctors and patients using the drug, prosecutors and law enforcement trying to hold OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma accountable, and the drug maker itself.
Actor extraordinary Michael Stuhlbarg plays former Purdue Pharma chairman Richard Sackler with the chilling intensity of a Bond villain. Disrespected by those close to him and driven to surpass the achievements of his uncle Arthur Sackler who pioneered the marketing strategy for Valium – Richard Sackler of Stuhlbarg is pushing the family business to heavily market OxyContin.
As its character explains, OxyContin has a protective coating that releases the drug over time, allowing the company to claim that less than 1% of patients would become dependent on the opioid. A part of SickSackler’s most powerful scenes show how Sackler’s claims become marching orders for an army of salespeople bent on getting doctors to prescribe OxyContin instead of competing painkillers producing a level of profit that would make the Sacklers one of the richest families in America.
But the series reveals how those who started abusing the drug learned to crush the tablets into a powder that could be inhaled and was highly addictive. Eventually, prosecutors noticed that small towns where people had not closed their doors for decades were drowned in crime and despair.
Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker are appealing as a pair of deputy US attorneys trying to muster enough evidence to prosecute Purdue Pharma executives, sorting through mountains of paperwork and lobbying efforts.
Antony Platt / Hulu
“A few months ago we caught a doctor selling pills in his car to an 11-year-old girl… and when we arrested him he thanked us,” Hoogenakker’s prosecutor told a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, played by Rosario Dawson. “At that time, we knew that what was happening in Coal Country is similar to San Francisco at the start of the AIDS crisis.… Our community is at ground zero for a growing national disaster.”
Sick also offers an authentic portrayal of the working class, predominantly white, ravaged by the opioid crisis. Lots of TV shows and movies have been shot in these cities recently, including Netflix Housemaid and Hillbilly elegy, HBO Easttown mare and Showtime’s American rust.
But often the areas depicted in such shows can feel relentlessly depressing and deprived. Sick excels at portraying a struggling community, but filled with proud, hardworking people who love their city, showing the reality of their situation without complacency or stereotypes.
Antony Platt / Hulu
Kaitlyn Dever, in particular, shines as Betsy, a closed-minded young gay woman who enjoys working in the mines alongside her father, although she also aspires to live somewhere where she can be herself without fear. to be ostracized.
But when a back mine injury causes Betsy to take the OxyContin prescribed by Dr. Finnix, her fortunes change dramatically.
Adapted by Danny Strong (co-creator of the hit Fox drama Empire) from a non-fiction book by Beth Macy, Sick jumps through storylines and periods in a way that can be a bit confusing, despite the onscreen graphics showing which year the scenes take place.
Always, Sick distills a complicated story into a gripping and heart-wrenching series telling the human cost of a crisis that started on corporate boards, won billions, and rocked the country in the process.
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